Buddies Learn English Holiday program
The Learn English Holiday program was started in 2012 by Buddies member Kayla Szumer who organised for a small group of refugees to come to the Sunshine Coast and stay with volunteer homestay hosts while attending English language classes at a private language school.
In 2016 we realised that Buddies had enough experienced teachers and willing classroom volunteers to run the classes ourselves as well as a wonderful and growing group of volunteer homestay hosts, so Buddies took over the design and running of the program. We increased the number of participants as more and more refugees wanted to take part.
Over time we have broadened our focus from language teaching to include investigation of cultural differences, water safety, health issues and study and work opportunities.
HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS
For a week, twice a year, 30-40 guests – from toddlers to those in their 60s – stay free of charge with homestay hosts. For many of the refugees it is their first encounter with normal life in Australia as they join their homestay hosts for breakfast, dinner and various outings. During the day they attend classes designed to help them understand Australian language and culture and also spend a day at the beach (practising beach safety) and a local zoo (Wildlife HQ). We celebrate our Learn English Holiday community with a Multicultural Dinner where participants bring food from their own countries to share with others, and enjoy the dancing afterwards.
The Learn English Holiday program develops cultural awareness for all involved, builds lifetime friendships and provides volunteer opportunities for about 100 Coast residents each program.
LEARN ENGLISH HOLIDAY IN THE COMMUNITY
We have built strong relationships with three local schools who offer us their facilities free of charge during April and September school vacations. Senior students assist with learning support and recreational activities. Members of school and church communities assist with daily catering, and the whole program is sustained by experienced volunteer teachers who design and run the day-to-day learning activities. A distinctive feature of the program is the one-on-one learning support provided by adult and student volunteers
The program unites various Sunshine Coast communities - Buddies Refugee Support Group, schools, businesses, churches, Indigenous organisations – and provides a rich cultural and educational experience not just for our Brisbane-based refugees and asylum seekers but also for the Sunshine Coast residents who volunteer.
The program assists refugees to integrate into Australia and to become more productive, independent members of our society.